As I have been reminded recently by the American Heritage video series we study on Wednesday evenings, Americans have largely forgotten one of the basic character principles considered to be crucial by our country’s founding fathers – Duty. Duty, as defined by Noah Webster, who has been called “a founding father who helped define American Culture”1, in his American Dictionary of 1828, is a concept foreign to most Americans today.
1. That which a person owes to another; that which a person is bound, by any natural, moral or legal obligation, to pay, do or perform. Obedience to princes, magistrates and the laws is the duty of every citizen and subject; obedience, respect and kindness to parents are duties of children; fidelity to friends is a duty; reverence, obedience and prayer to God are indispensable duties; the government and religious instruction of children are duties of parents which they cannot neglect without guilt.
2. Forbearance (avoidance) of that which is forbid by morality, law, justice or propriety. It is our duty to refrain from lewdness, intemperance, profaneness and injustice.
3. Obedience; submission.
4. Act of reverence or respect.
Note that duty is something required (owes to, bound by) and expected of every citizen. Duty is not optional nor is it self-serving; it is doing what is right out of obedience, submission, reverence and respect. Our founding fathers served out of a sense of duty and considered it to be of paramount importance for the maintenance of a free Republic. Americans today like to tout our “rights” of free speech, pursuit of happiness, religious freedoms, and many other liberties granted us by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. However, those “rights” all come with “responsibilities” (duties) as designed by the founding fathers. Today, we seem to want to exert our rights without performing our duties. We complain about the way we are governed yet we do not exercise our right (and duty) to vote and otherwise legally influence the legislative process. When we fail to exercise our civic rights and duties to participate in the legislative process, we also, logically, should abdicate our right to complain about the results.
Noah Webster and the other founding fathers spoke and wrote voluminously about the importance of the duty of every citizen (We The People…) to participate in the governance of our country and built a democratic republic to facilitate this process. This is nothing new, it is Civics 101. But what, you may ask, has that to do with my Christian Duty? As we will explore in a new sermon series starting this week, Christian duties are quite similar to Civic duties in our country because the founding fathers designed our government on CHRISTIAN PRINCIPLES! As we ponder how our country has fallen into a morass of immorality, political bickering, and ineffectual governance, we should recall the words of George Washington in his farewell address of 1796, “Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports.” We The People have all but banished God, The Bible, and the morality taught therein from civil government. As can be seen by the statements of Webster, Washington, and many other founding fathers, this is far afield from the American government which they envisioned and designed.
It is time to change. We MUST get back to basics and exercise our civic and Christian duties in order to heal our land and realize the promise God so graciously extended His people in 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” God CAN heal our land and we need to do our part by turning from our wicked ways and seeking Him. I urge you to start today:
All registered voters in Anchorage should receive a ballot in the mail this week. The first proposition on the ballot (Proposition 1) regards requiring public restrooms, locker rooms, and changing facilities to be separated by biological gender at birth. I IMPLORE you to vote YES on this proposition to keep these facilities separated by gender as God intended. There is a growing segment of Anchorage who are either ambivalent, misinformed, or deluded who will vote against this proposition and we must get out the vote to protect common decency and Christian morality.
The Alaska Family Action organization, a group dedicated to promoting the biblical precepts of the family, prepared an information paper on the subject of Proposition 1. I will have printed copies available for you Sunday. You can also view it on our FB page and here: [Proposition 1 Information]. Please get the word out to your friends, co-workers, and neighbors so we can vote to effect decency, morality, and biblical principles in our community.
1 The Forgotten Founding Father: Noah Webster’s obsession and the Creation of an American Culture, Joshua Kendall, Penguin Books, New York, 2010.